Skip to Content

U.S. Marshals Service


The U.S. Marshals and the Integration of the University of Mississippi: 

Message from  Director Benigno Reyna

“Deputy marshals placed themselves in harm’s way and
heroically stood before a very hostile and violent crowd.” — Director Reyna

September 2003 marked the 40th anniversary of the integration of the University of Mississippi.  I had the honor of speaking at the anniversary commemoration.

And as I spoke before an audience in Oxford, Miss., which included retired deputy marshals who worked that detail, current U.S. marshals and gathered guests, I was taken by the sense of duty and commitment that our deputies displayed in carrying out their orders 40 years ago.

It was not a pleasant place for federal law enforcement officers to be on the night of Sept. 30, 1962. Rioters vented all of their anger on the most visible sign of federal authority — deputy U.S. marshals. Our deputies defended and protected the United States Constitution and safeguarded the freedom of every American. 

Along with National Guardsmen and other federal law enforcement officers, deputy marshals upheld the rule of law that long night and defended that process which we — in a democracy — use to achieve justice and protect

Director Reyna of the U.S. Marshals with retired deputies who protected the Ol Miss administration building

Bravery revisited. Director Reyna is backed by former deputy marshals on the steps of the county courthouse in Oxford, Miss. Forty years earlier, these same deputies were among those who stood arm in arm to enforce a federal court order allowing black student James Meredith to enroll at Ole Miss University.

A courageous group of deputy marshals led by Chief Marshal McShane stepped up to the challenges because of the profound commitment to upholding our oath of office and protecting the rights of all people.

James Meredith took that step when he sought justice and fair treatment at a public university.  Military personnel and various law enforcement officers also took that step when called upon to assist us.  Deputy marshals placed themselves in harm’s way and heroically stood before a very hostile and violent crowd.  Let us honor them for their brave actions — and for what they stood for and defended. They safeguarded the U.S. Constitution and protected the rights we enjoy today.

Continued:  Page One | Two | Three | Four | Five | Six | Seven | Eight

Read about the past | Trouble Brewing | Holding Firm | Continued Protection | Robert Kennedy's Statement
The Present: 40 Years Later | The 40th Year Commemoration | Message from Director Benigno Reyna is an official site of the U.S. Federal Government, U.S. Department of Justicee